Saturday, December 30, 2006

Been on the road

Sorry no blogging for so long, I've been on the road and I'm now in Mobile, AL. We went to a really fun wedding for one of Amy's cousins and I'm enjoying the wi-fi at La Quinta. You know "'La Quinta,' spanish for free high-speed internet ."

We've had alot of fun so far on the way out stopping at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and also the Battleship Texas (WWII era) and San Jacinto Monument right on the outskirts of Houston. I even had the flu when we went to the Texas and San Jacinto, but it was all fun as long as I wasn't giving up my lunch.

We'll be heading back to Texas (God's country) in the morning and I hope I'll have more time to blog then. Peace out.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Man in California sets himself on fire...for a reason I can't grasp

Okay. The man from the story HERE, lit a Christmas tree on fire, and an American flag, and a revolutionary American flag. He wanted to demonstrate how upset he was about a school district reverting back to using the names "Christmas Break" and "Easter Break." I can see the point, he thinks its a mixing of church and state I suppose. Then, he loses me. He lights himself on fire. Why doesn't this make sense? If the man is an atheist, and he kills himself, what good has he done? What does he gain from it if he's going to die and believes that it really is the end? Its kind of like Nietzsche, if there is no God, then its all about me. If its all about me, the last possible thing you would ever want to do is end your own life, then there's no more "me".

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Beer Blessing


Here's a Beer Blessing courtesy of "Rob's Wife" on the catholicanswers.com forum:

Beer BlessingFrom the Rituale Romanum (no 58):

Benedic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi: et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti, ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corporis, et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen

Bless, O Lord, this creature beer, that Thou hast been pleased to bring forth from the sweetness of the grain: that it might be a salutary remedy for the human race: and grant by the invocation of Thy holy name, that, whosoever drinks of it may obtain health of body and a sure safeguard for the soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.



As the over 21 Tiny Tim would say "God Bless beer, every one."

To serve the Lord

HERE's a good story by Fr. George Rutler about a man who served his parish untiringly for many years. What caught my eye was the quote
"As I was unfamiliar with the Spanish convention of naming boys for the
Savior, it startled me upon arriving in my new parish to read on the bulletin
board: 'If there is no usher at the 7:30 Mass, Jesus will take up the
collection.'”

It's a good read.

"El Loco" ready for some Henry VIII action

As if Hugo Chavez didn't seem loony enough, he may soon be the head of a possible Venezualan state religion. Get the story HERE.

Jesus Lady

The "Jesus Lady" seems pretty cool. Every Christmas she gets a permit to display a nativity scene in front of the Capital Building in D.C.. She says it is because of her loss of freedom as a child in Nazi occupied Italy that she is motivated to display the nativity every year. The video wasn't linkable so sorry about that, however, its over at foxnews.com. Aside from that she is very politically active, as evidenced by THIS story from "The Hill" online news. I'm not sure I agree with everything she does, but bravo to using your freedom to display the nativity.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Steve Martin's Yuletide Theology

Check out Mark Shea's "The Gospel According to Steve Martin" article at Catholic Exchange.

Jesus could be king of Poland, atleast honorarily


For those who have made Jesus king of your life, Poland wants to join you. Atleast 46 of the 460 members of their parlaiment want to join you. Get the story HERE.


The story says the bishops don't support the proposal, calling it well intended but propoganda. I tend to agree that as good natured as it is, a country can celebrate its historical roots (calling the E.U., call the E.U....and the U.S.) but to make Jesus an officially recognized honorary head of state may be a little different. As much as I like the idea, I have to think that it burns the boundary a little between church and state. I don't think we'd like the idea of Turkey naming Mohammed the honorary sultan of Turkey, it seems a little anti-religious freedom. On the other hand, Islam being recognized for its contribution to Turkish society seems by the government seems a good thing.


In my humble opinion, I think if Poland wants to honor the King, they should make an official act of recognition by the government towards the contributions of the Church in Polish society and culture. I don't know how far that reaches, but I think its the best thing to do. I hope I don't sound like a hippy, pansy, lib, but there's my two cents.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And A Load of Holiday Horse-Hockey To You My Friend...


I can't even believe that Foxnews linked THIS story from the USA Today. I guess that is fair and balanced. I can see the USA Today Who Can We Make Feel Inclusive running the story, but Fox?

The story is nothing but a put down of how "intolerant" we Christians are when we avoid anti-Christmas stores who want to take our money but not acknowledge the reasons for the season. Of course when a city councilman from Monroe, WI states that 90% of Americans are Christians the writer makes sure to let us know that its actually "roughly" 80%. Thanks, you're right Ms. Stange, that is way less than 90%. Ms. Stange, wanting to inform us, lets us see the big picture, that "The assumption at work here appears to be that, while we are a diverse society, Christmas is a national holiday that trumps all other seasonal celebrations." If I may offer my humble opinion madam, I thinkthe assumption at work here is actually that since this is a major holiday in which Christians are being advertised to, they feel like the holiday should be acknowledged.

Thank goodness gracious (and of course not God, because then we would have to thank everyone's) that the Ms. Mary Stange is nice enough to teach us that "Of course, if you are a Jew celebrating Hanukkah, or a Muslim marking Eid al-Fitr, or a neo-pagan Wiccan for whom the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) is a major observance, you probably had appreciated the more inclusive acknowledgement that the end of the year is a festive time for you, too. " Ah that's right. I wish I remembered how many people Wiccans had on their list for gift giving this time of year! This is a major shopping holiday for them too right? And who can forget Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim Mardi Gras? I certainly cannot. I don't know how they get all that holiday season shopping done after fasting so long.

What if perhaps, just perhaps, those folks weren't doing all that much shopping for their respective holidays and instead us intolerant, irrespectfully full of ourselves Christians were. Sure there are eight crazy nights worth of presents to get for Hanukkah as Adam Sandler tells us, but who is that wild and crazy group paying Target's electricity bill come December time? Might it be Christians (church lady lip pursing action!). So is it too much to ask that our reason be acknowledged without being patronized by "holiday trees"? Honestly, outside of Christmas, who is decorating a pine tree? So I think the patronizing might not be all for us. Are there a bunch of angry people upset that the trees in their airports aren't being refered to as Kwanza trees? Come on Stange, not every one is as offended as you and your kooky out of touch friends. But the terror that is this article of Ms. Stange's did not end there, alas for all readers, you will be bombarded with useless data.

For those interested, evidentley "if you are Wiccan, the matter of being un-included this holiday season must especially sting." I'm so sad. "A group of Wiccan families is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs for the right to bury their fallen heroes in military cemeteries in graves marked with a pentacle, the five-pointed star that symbolizes their religion, much as a cross does Christianity or a Star of David, Judaism." Now, first of all, if Wikipedia serves me well "Because there is no centralised organisation in Wicca, and no single "orthodoxy", the beliefs and practices of Wiccans can vary substantially, both between individuals and between traditions. " Why then does every Wiccan want a pentacle? Every Christian wants a cross, okay got it, every Jew want a star of David, Islamic crescant and so on until...your head explodes because only about 1800 out of over a million people claim to even be Wiccan in the military. Even then how many of these people are really going to be buried in a government cemetary? I have no problem with giving it too them, but was that sob story supposed to make me think "Wow, they are being screwed, this Christmas lets just call it a holiday tree because the Wiccans aren't getting their head stones at Arlington." Come on Mary Stange, this has nothing to do with the "sting" of not having a winter solstice banner hanging in Macy's. By the way, I see from Wikipedia that only about 134,000 people in the US claim to be Wiccan. Isn't that about the same number of people from Australia that a few years ago claimed to be members of the "Jedi" religion? Do you see what I mean folks?

Now for the Shock-and-Awe moment of the story where Ms. Stange reveals the super-dee-dooper secret origins of Christmas that surely no Christian has every heard as she writes "there is a deep, and seasonal, irony here — one that might come as a shock to the "Save Merry Christmas" crowd." Or it might just be a shockingly awful spin of the story of the origin of Christmas. You see according to Ms. Stange "Christmas is, in its origins and its symbolism, perhaps the most pagan-inspired of all Christian holidays." Yes, I see. When Christians first saw the pagans (wiccans of course) giving presents and singing "O' Silent Night" they wept with joy at the inspiration they recieved. They said "Oh Partinicus, I am so inspired. We should take over this holiday and suppress Wiccans everywhere for Jesus." "I think you are right Linicius, I too am inspired for this cause." Or, maybe during the conversion of the pagans (who were probably NOT Wiccan as it didn't exist before the 1920s) the Christian missionaries who were instructed to attempt to allow as much of the indigienous culture to remain as possible, might have taken the pagan holidays and "baptized" them. The missionaries knew that though you can change religious beliefs, you can't change the entire culture of the people. The people will still want to celebrate things that are traditional to them. So, if they still want to celebrate around the time of the old winter solstice and want something to celebrate show them a party concerning their new found beliefs. Now they have a reason for joy, the birth of Joy itself! Could it be that in this fashion it became popular to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ on the 25th of December?

While we're on the subject of Christians-are-really-just-pagan-copiers why not take a look at what Ms. Mary has to offer next. "Most of the popular symbols surrounding Christmas — evergreen trees and other greenery, mistletoe and holly, the Yule log, candles and bonfires and holiday lights, mystical spirits with the ability to fly and to enter and leave a house through its chimney, tricksters who treat or taunt little children, not to mention those elves — all derive from older, pre-Christian Europe."

So sure Christians think that evergreens symbolize the everlasting reign of Christ and blah blah blah, but Wiccans know that they are wrong. I think Ms. Mary may have forgotten that just because something may have its origins as one thing it can still transform into another. For instance, at Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. At the same time, Jews celebrate the Passover. What was once Jewish is now Christian, but with a different twist. This example is a little different as Christians didn't just add to the pagan holiday but changed it. Sure we kept the evergreen, but we changed its meaning. For us, the winter solstice even has meaning, and we're not Wiccan. It can symbolize that even if evil may seem to triumph (the shortest day of light for the year) God and his goodness will succeed (the brightening days to come). As far as the spirits coming down the chimney, I'd like to remind Ms. Stange that similarity does not imply descent. If the story of a Bishop in Myra turns into a story about a man who gives yearly gifts on Christmas and the way he gets into the house is through the chimney, it cannot be implied that because pagans believed that spirits came through a chimney it is the pagan descendant. That's like saying that because some ancient Middle Eastern religions used arches made of gold in their worship then McDonalds must be an ancient cultic temple.

The last paragraph of the article is indeed a work of art (it'll take me another beer just to suffer through it again). "In fact, nothing could be more in keeping with the "Christmas spirit" than to embrace and celebrate religious diversity. And nothing could be truer to the spirit of the First Amendment than to honor American war dead as they and their loved ones would wish. No single group of self-proclaimed Christians holds a premium on the meaning of this magical season. And no government agency should decide what "qualifies" as an appropriate religious symbol." Because nothing says "I am the way, the truth, and the life," like religious diversity at Christmas. And while we're on the subject of Christmas, just go ahead make a statement about the first amendment, its all the same to a Wiccan. Finally, no one could say it finer that Ms. Mary Stange: Christmas time doesn't belong to Christians. I guess you called this one right Ms. Mary, Christ came for all of us, let's celebrate.

Cruel and Unsual...typo?

A man in Florida was executed in a some-what botched lethal injection on Wednesday. No matter your feelings for the necessity of the death penalty it is right to pray for the man's soul. Get the story HERE.

What also caught my eye was a short paragraph that said:

"the governor said he wants to ensure the process does constitute cruel and
unusual punishment, as some death penalty foes argued bitterly after Wednesday's
execution."

Pretty sure Jeb isn't looking to make sure Florida's executions are cruel and unusual. Just a thought.

Franken-deer's Terror Brought To A Halt (A "tasty" one)

Foxnews was carrying a story about a seven legged, transgender deer that a guy from Wisconsin accidentally ran over. Get the story HERE. Wow, he doesn't catch three eyed fish in the local stream does he? I think I'd pack up the wife and kids and move away a little...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Want to solve a Rubik's cube?


I don't think I'll ever get it figured out. But if you want a crack at it, use these tips.

Church Vandalism

Here's a post by Michael Barber from his blog Singing in the Reign. A statue of Jesus at the University where he teaches has been vandalized. Its good to hear they have made some arrests. Pray for Good Shepherd.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

PGFAO (Praise God Finals Are Over)


And after finals, the best thing I could hear all day came from today's first reading from Isaiah:

"Do you not know or have you not heard?The
LORD is the eternal God,creator of the ends of the earth.He does not faint nor
grow weary,and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.He gives strength to the
fainting;for the weak he makes vigor abound.Though young men faint and grow
weary,and youths stagger and fall,They that hope in the LORD will renew their
strength,they will soar as with eagles’ wings;They will run and not grow
weary,walk and not grow faint."


Thanks be to God.

Dale Price- "Affirm and go hottubbing, for yours is the reign of God."

This is one of the best posts I've seen in a long time. It's long, but denifinetly worth it to read the whole thing. It's very humorous as well as true in recounting of the problems with "the Americanization of the Gospel." True that Dale. True that. :)

Good Joke

There's a great joke today on Julie's blog HAPPY CATHOLIC. Check it out.

Good Catholic Proof of Beer: by Alive and Young


Check out a great proof of the goodness of beer by the blog Alive and Young.

Human Rights #1

B16 gave a speech (text HERE) yesterday part of which is supposedly directed at purported US policies in handling terrorists and suspected terrorists. Get a story on the speach HERE from catholic world news. If you've read this blog before you know I support the war, but I'd like to take the time to mention that it is paramount to treat people as people. While I don't think we have mishandled the situation, I agree that we must make it a priority to uphold human rights and dignity or we are no better than the enemy. I'm not going to go into what I think about different interrogation methods. I haven't heard for a fact that we're doing anything reaching into torture and knowing that the people working out there are human beings too, I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt. I do think that it is good of his holiness B16 to remind us of the inherent human dignity of everyone. I think the folks really reading this as a huge slap in the face to US policies are those already shaking their finger at us, and they don't even know if its true.

Also is the speech was B16 reminding us what the media tends to forget, human dignity and rights are also violated in more ways than one: “alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are the silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentation on human embryos and euthanasia. How can we fail to see in all this an attack on peace?”

The Pope continued his message that religion is not a place for violence:"Today, however, peace is not only threatened by the conflict between reductive visions of man, in other words, between ideologies. It is also threatened by indifference as to what constitutes man’s true nature."

Finally is regards to the removal of the Christmas trees from the Seattle airport (just kidding, but its along those lines): “There are regimes that impose a single religion upon everyone, while secular regimes often lead not so much to violent persecution as to systematic cultural denigration of religious beliefs.”

Enjoy the speach.

Sacrificed camel proves Turkey is ready for the EU


If nothing else has shown just how ready Turkey is for the E.U., the sacrifice of a camel on the end of a runway in Ankara should finish the debate. Here's the foxnews link.

The EU is so backward right now that they'll do one of two things with this 1) They'll say "its okay, we accept you for who you are. Your culture and religious prefernces are fine with us, even if it comes to sacrificing camels. Heck the camel probably deserved it anyway so give it a try on one of our runways." or 2) "Whoa, you guys really are from a different culture. Maybe we should wait a bit. You know, you guys could really help to bring some stability to the middle east..."

My bet is they'll probably choose option #1 so that no one thinks they're being "intolerant" of Turkish culture. I don't think sacrificing camels is the norm in Turkey by the way. I think B16 was probably right though in regards to Turkey's status with the E.U. I'm not sure they go together like peas and carrots.

Last thought on this: were the airplanes really that bad that the airline workers felt it was worth sacrificing camels on the runway?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Have a Very Merry Indian Christmas

Shamelessly stolen from Mark Shea. Its hilarious Mark.

Kofi Annan: The Man, The Myth, The Photoshopped


I'm sooooo sad that Kofi has to step down, especially after such a riveting farewell speech. It was so fresh and original to hear "Human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity." Wow, what insight. I also listened in amazement when he said the U.S. "appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused." The raw intellectual power of this man, how will he ever be replaced?

But certainly Mr. Annan wasn't just preaching to his lib Euro-buddies was he? You don't mean to say he was....no....just putting one country down to raise himself?

Alas, I think our friend Kofi is nothing more than another man trying to give himself a final shot of glory. And again it comes at our expense. Have we abandoned our "own ideals and objectives" or are our ideals just very different from someone who developed UNICEF into a tool for "population control." Maybe when Kofi says that our "friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused," he means his friends. You know who I'm talking about Mr. Chirac, Mr. Schroeder, and I guess anyone else who doesn't like America. I seem to recall our friends like you know, Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom not disagreeing with us a whole bunch. You know, the other 22 countries that went with us into Iraq. Sure, not everyone has agreed that we should have gone into Iraq, but the fact of the matter is as Mr. Annan said in his speech that as the world's superpower we "must accept the special responsibility that comes with their privilege." So we have.

My little Kofi, if you could see past the spotlight that's been in your eyes these last few years you could see that there were really only a few people clapping. That clapping you hear drowns out the crying from the families in Africa where your dear UNICEF has told them to use condoms and abortion to keep themselves from overpopulating and hence starving themselves. If you'd have opened your ears to that instead of the cheers you've sought by insulting the US, you might have even heard the victory cheers in Uganda for winning battles in the fight against AIDS by using abstinence education.

But you have been busy Kofi. You and Kojo have been hard at work. It must have been rough going making sure all the money went to the right places and "right" places when the Oil-for-Food program was running. And as I've mentioned UNICEF before, I may as well mention it again, it takes alot of time to put the right people in charge. You know what I mean, the "Co-ordinating Committee on Health -- aligned UNICEF with UNFPA's major partner agency, International Planned Parenthood, which ranks second only to the the Chinese government in the volume of abortions it provides." Second to only the Chinese government, well Kofi, what are you doing falling behind? You better set the tone my friend.

Why stop there? Kofi, can I call you Kof for short? Kof, you hit the nail on the head when you said "The Security Council is not just another stage on which to act out national interests." I mean you are so right. When Iran threatens everyone who wants to stop them from making "the bomb" by taking action at the security council, they are totally just using the council as a stage. Oh, my fault, you were just putting us down again. I see, Iran has every right to put on a show at the Security Council (I hear Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a great Gene Kelly in their new Singing in the Jihadist Rain), but should we use UN channels such as the Security Council to try to stop them from using a WMD against a country they want to be "wiped off the map," we're trying to hijack the council for national interests. I understand.

I know I'm not perfect. I tend to criticize alot, just ask my wife, she hates it (or look at my Nativity story post). I do get a little perterbed, however, when people like Kofi Annan continue to criticize America day after day while his own deeds go sight unseen. UNICEF is killing babies but the headline on YAHOO!NEWS is: "Annan criticizes U.S. in farewell speech." You know somewhere Beelzebub is loving it.

On the flip side, now that Kofi is out, have some fun looking at these pictures capturing the touching moments of his time in office (just kidding, its a Kofi Annan photoshop contest).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Nativity, or maybe The Great Escape?


Just a quick shot before I head to work. Amy and I saw the Nativity Story the other night. Amy really enjoyed it for what it was with little comment, but I'm much more inclined to criticise so here I go.


First of all, the movie portrays Mary as a little rebellious in certain scenes. For instance, when Mary is told she will be marrying Joseph, she runs away and cries. Although Mary would have been very young, I do not think Mary to have been the type to run away from her parents pouting. The portrayal of Mary seems to be, atleast as its scripted, very protestant. Also, at the annunciation, you can barely here the angel call Mary. I never did catch whether he said "Hail, Full of Grace," or "Hail, Highly Favored One." It would be nice to rewatch it just to look for that.


While I'm talking about the angel, why did he look like a throw back Dr. J in robes? Seriously, I think they could have done better to make the messenger of God a point of light or something. Also, why did he have to turn into a hawk? That might be a little weird for the kids.


The next target of my criticism is the handling of Mary's parents. Even if you don't read "The Poem of the Man-God" as from a mystic, I think it has a better handle on Sts. Anne and Joachim. I don't think they would be quite so gruff or rough on Mary.


When I went to see the Nativity Story, I expected to watch a movie about the Nativity, not "The Great Escape: The Prequel." I can understand a little drama, but did Mary have to fall off the donkey into the river? I assume the snake that scared the donkey was supposed to be symbolic. Sorry if that was a spoiler by the way.


The movie was not all bad though. I think with a little help it could have been better. Good or not, I liked the humorous wise men. They got the theater (all St. Mary's parishoners) rolling. For adults, I'd say go ahead and see it. Kids on the other hand, I would wait. I am not going to recommend to my mom that she take the little ones to see it, I think it may give them false impressions of Mary, a little confusing right on the heals of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.


The actors and actresses were very good I thought. The sets I also enjoyed, its good to remember what times were like, and to remember how good we have it.

If you see, it enjoy. If you don't see it, don't lose sleep over it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

St. Mary's Mass Times

Todays mass time for St. Mary's is 5:30pm. Be there or be square. Here is the link to St. Mary's very wonderfully named website, aggiecatholic.com.

Another Reason the Patriot Act Should Stand

We stopped another attack at home. Get the story HERE. This one looks like a kid who was a little dilusional, not a hardcore terrorist, none-the-less this is why we need the Patriot Act. There are still more regulations than you can shake a stick at as to what you can and cannot do regarding suveillance, which is good, but at least the PA gives us a better shot at stopping the bad guys. Stories like these should remind us that the fight isn't over at home.

Also, pray for the kid to get some sense. There have been other stories about kids like this who sound like the type that think they don't fit in and they want to be a part of something. They remind me of the Columbine types. If I recall there was a reservist they caught trying to give info to terrorists on deployment dates and unit strengths but he wasn't very smart about hiding it. Pray for these kids.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Catholic Carnival- new blogs to the blogroll please!

After reading this week's Catholic Carnival, I added this blog to the blog roll. Its called The Recovering Dissident Catholic.

All of them are good to read at the carnival. Check them out.

St. Paul's tomb

This is exciting stuff! Vatican archaeologists think they have unearthed the tomb of St. Paul based on church tradition of his burial place. Get the story HERE, and also HERE.

I remember some years back when they re-discovered St. Peter's burial place. Not that it was really ever "lost" I suppose. This has got to be exciting for Steve Ray.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I never thought of myself as a Brady

Here's how I tested. This is from Happy Catholic.

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas

For you, it's all about sharing times with family.
Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.

Advent Pray-As-You-Go


The folks from pray as you go are going to be doing their daily meditations a little bit differently during advent. HERE's what their doing.


HERE is their site where you can download your daily mp3 meditations.

RoboSalmon, the breakthrough we've all been waiting for

When I say the words "innovative technology,"what do you think of? Well of course you think robotic fish. What's that? Cancer zapping research? Why work on that when you can build a robot that swims like a real fish? Check out the story Here about the guys who built RoboSalmon.

Joking aside, this is kind of cool, but I wonder how much money was spent developing this. A RoboSalmon? What kind of information are they hoping this thing can gain for them that they can't already get? I can't see any use for this robot that you couldn't already get from current submersibles. I suppose that's why I'm not getting paid the big bucks though.

This reminds me of a Seinfeld stand-up act where he say "Let's see I just graduated with my doctorate, what kind of research should I do? Hmmm. Should I help to fight cancer? No. Should I work on helping develop new drugs? No. I know, I want to create a watermelon without seeds. Yes, I will use my knowledge to create seedless watermelons!"

Anyway, I guess I'm cranky from being up late. I know I shouldn't be this critical. If I could half the things these guys can with some electronics I'd be a happy engineer.

See the video below.


What, the UN might be crooked? Noooooo...


Same ole same ole at the UN. Get the story HERE on sneaky consultants and the people who sneakily pay them.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Get your day started...

For those who could use a little motivation this weekend I thought a little motivational speech by the great Matt Foley might do the trick.


Cool Advent Calendar and more...Zounds its fun!

Stole this url from Shrine of the Holy Whapping who had it up today.It's EWTN's online Advent Calendar. Looks pretty neat.

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I guess 'ole Putin thought Britain should take a page out of Russia's playbook. Too bad he forgot that the Brits have freedom of speech. Get that story HERE.
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This is one of the coolest things I saw all day.
If the kid is wearing hair that looks like it could represent a gang, kick him in the butt and get his hair cut. I don't know if my link will work, if not, its the video of the school forcing a kid in NM to cut his hair on the right hand side of the page HERE.
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That's my stuff for the day.

Friday, December 01, 2006

If only the Post had a clue...

Abdulaziz Sachedina of the Washington Post is the latest to miss the boat. First of all read the article at:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/abdulaziz_a_sachedina/2006/11/post_1.html

Sorry to have to post the url and not just link it but blogger is still a little kooky.

Okay. What in the world is going on. Half the world know His Holiness B16 is pushing logical interfaith dialogue. He asks for basic human rights and freedoms to be given to people of all faiths not just christians, and the response he gets from the post is:

"The more one tries to defend the Pope’s remarks as being made “inadvertently,” the more the transparency of their real intention becomes obvious: To close the door on the dialogue between Muslims and Catholics permanently."

Oh yes, that's right. If he wanted to close the door on interreligious dialogue with muslims he should go to a predominently muslim country and insult them. Yes, this sounds like a wonderfully reasonable thing to do. OOOOOOr, maybe the Wall Street Journal has a nack for actually listening to what the Pope says and not watching Al-Jazeera for their editorials like the Post:

"Benedict XVI's evident intention is to engage the Islamic world, particularly its religious and political leaders, in an intense and long discussion of the religious, political and legal rights of their resident minorities, in other words, the Western tradition. The implications of this effort are obvious for achieving an acceptable modus vivendi with global Islam."

Oh so he does want to use interreligious dialogue so two faiths can come to an understanding. Hmmm. Interesting. So how can two different papers come up with stories on two different ends of the spectrum? The "Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virgina" says things like "No amount of apology can undo the harm the irresponsible comments about Islam and its founder have done to the prospects of dialogue between these two Abrahamic traditions," and "The Pope had no such noble intention to change the minds and hearts of Muslim militants." The WSJ's writer Daniel Henninger says "Benedict XVI's evident intention is to engage the Islamic world, particularly its religious and political leaders, in an intense and long discussion of the religious, political and legal rights of their resident minorities, in other words, the Western tradition."

If the Post can't get someone who is actually paying attention, they should just not cover it at all. Of course they do have their readership who were probably already saying this stuff before it ever got printed and now its just the "proof in the pudding." Anyway, for better analysis of this, I'd bet that the Curt Jester, Jimmy Akin or Mark Shea will have something up about this. Check them out.

Great Stories

If you want to hear about the heroes on the ground in Iraq, check out some of the new stories at foxnews.com. For some reason blogger isn't letting me link web sites the way I normally do so I'll just paste in the url. Find the first story here:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,233625,00.html

This one is the first in a series so keep watching and see the great men and women we have to be proud of and thankful for.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Its time for a Holiday...Bowl!

The Ags are going to the Holiday bowl to face California on December 28th. So write it in on your calendar and get ready to watch the Aggies BTHO Cal!

Here's a "montage" of the final drive that put the Aggies in the lead against t.u. Stephen McGee, you are the man.

I wish my physics class was this fun...



Check out how far they can go. Can somebody say Joooooordan.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pope photo essay

Fox news has a photo essay of Pope B16's trip to Turkey. Check it out HERE.

Age of the ill enlightened


There was a great piece today in the Wall Street Journal about the falling down of Europe. Read the article HERE. Make sure to read the whole article, its worth it.


Reading this really made me think about my political science professor (oh yeah I have a test tomorrow, I guess I better get to reading!). She's more liberal than McDonald's is with mayo on a burger, and that's saying something. All we hear about is "Europe is better than us because they have free health care" or "Europe is better because they can accept muslims for who they are." Are they really? Can they really? This is the same prof who told us that all senior citizens were rich because of social security. I'll check with my grandparents, but I don't think they're going to Tahiti anytime soon because their check from Uncle Sam finally came in.


Europe is losing its soul, plain and simple. Victor Hanson talks about it in terms of the enlightenment, and that is sound. I think the freedoms he discusses are what Locke describes (or more familiarly Thomas Jefferson) in saying that we have the God given rights as men to "life, liberty and property." Hanson discusses the lack of freedom that Europe allows itself out of fear of the extremists:



"sketch a simple cartoon in postmodern Denmark of legendary easy tolerance, and
then go into hiding to save yourself from the gruesome fate of a Van Gogh."


If you were however, to publish a cartoon that was offensive to Christians, well hey no problemo right? I agree with Hansen that the cause is that Europe has gotten so cushy in its welfare state society, it doesn't have the cajones to fight back if fighting means the loss of some of that cush. Mark Steyn (he was always a very sharp, funny columnsist) in his new book "America Alone" says that Europe has "neutered itself" by handing over all defense issues to us and spending their money on their own social welfare. The result is a society unwilling to stick up for itself.



Just as the Europeans are stunned that their heaven on earth has left them weak
and afraid, so too millions of Americans on the Left are angry that their own
promised moral utopia is not so welcomed by the supposedly less educated and
bright among them. But still, what drives Westerners, here and in Europe, to
demand that we must be perfect rather than merely good, and to lament that if we
are not perfect we are then abjectly bad--and always to be so unable to define
and then defend their civilization against its most elemental enemies?


If we have it so good, why complain about how bad it is? I've never understood this. I even read on a Starbucks cup once under their "The Way I See It" heading the following "Every civilization is measured by how it treats its poor. If this is the case then we are doing a horrible job." If its so bad, what are you doing paying five bucks for a cup of coffee that could be used to better the poor? Oh wait, you don't really care about them, you hate Wal-mart where they can actually afford things or get a job, you just want to have something to complain about. You want to stick it to the man. Modern day hippies.



We especially ignore among us those who work each day to keep nature and the
darker angels of our own nature at bay. This new obtuseness revolves around a
certain mocking by elites of why we have what we have. Instead of appreciating
that millions get up at 5 a.m., work at rote jobs, and live proverbial lives of
quiet desperation, we tend to laugh at the schlock of Wal-Mart, not admire its
amazing ability to bring the veneer of real material prosperity to the poor.
We can praise the architect for our necessary bridge, but demonize the
franchise that sold fast and safe food to the harried workers who built it. We
hear about a necessary hearing aid, but despise the art of the glossy
advertisement that gives the information to purchase it. And we think the
soldier funny in his desert camouflage and Kevlar, a loser who drew poorly in
the American lottery and so ended up in Iraq--our most privileged never
acknowledging that such men with guns are the only bulwark between us and the
present day forces of the Dark Ages with their Kalashnikovs and suicide belts.


To the hippies I say "power to the people, not you bunch of minority whiners." No soldier wants to go to war. But they are willing to fight for their country, the country that protects the freedom to whine. Let's not go the way of Europe. Let's stand up and let the terrorists know that we will be strong and we will be victorious.


I will now step off of my soap box. Thank you, and God Bless America! Read that article!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All about the (feel of the) Benjamins'

I guess even our new bills will be a thing of the past now that a US District Judge sided with the American Council of the Blind. The ACB wanted American paper currency to have each bill be distinguishable from the others. Evidently other countries already do this, so saith the article anyway. The story is HERE.

I've honestly never even thought about this. I guess I've heard about the blind being able to distinguish between coins by size and feel of the edges such as a quarter having ridges around its edge and a nickel being smooth. I suppose it goes to show just one more thing I take for granted everyday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I knew I had good posture...

What you always knew about posture but were taught was wrong. Slouching is a good thing. Read about it HERE.

Back in God's Country!


Amy and I are back in Aggieland after watching our Ags BTHO t.u. the day after Thanksgiving (actually I only caught the last two minutes of the game since we were at Union Station in St. Louis)! We had a blast in St. Louis with my sister and brother-in-law and I think Amy has found the city of her dreams. Now that I'm back I have two tests waiting for me tomorrow so I will try to catch up to everything else later.

Also, the picture is Amy and I looking very colonial at the history museum in St. Louis.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yukon Ho! Up north where the cold air blows!


Actually we're going to St. Louis, not the Yukon. None-the-less we are excited that we're leaving in the morning (in about 5 and a half hours actually, yikes!) and headed to my sister and brother in laws place for Thanksgiving. They couldn't leave St. Louis so Amy and I decided it was roadtrip time. I don't know how much chance I'll have to blog there, so it may be sparse up here for a couple of days. Just keep checking anyway and we'll see if I get the time. Have a Happy Thanksgiving if I don't get to say it, travel safely, and say a prayer for our troops who can't be home right now to celebreate with their families.

Sad News for Pro-Family

Sad news for Pro-family, an amazing number of children born out of wedlock. Get the story HERE. It seems the problem is not teen moms but instead 20 somethings.

"While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers,
the teen birth rate actually dropped last year to the
lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose
most dramatically among women in their 20s."
So, is the problem that the maturity level is dropping, or is it that values are going in the trash can? The teen birth rates actually dropped, seemly saying that we're getting through to them. Is it still the generations where teen pregnancies rose that is still producing these pregnancies out of wedlock only now they're older?

But the bright side, well the article seems to think its that

" just because a mother is not married does not mean the father isn't
around, Ventura noted. She noted 2002 statistics that showed that about 20
percent of all new mothers under 20 were unmarried but living with the father at
the time of the birth. That same was true of about 13 percent of all new mothers
ages 20 to 24."


Oh well as long as they're living together I guess that takes care of that. No more pesky problems right? I have family members who have had children out of wedlock and they aren't religious. They are nice people and I love them, but I sincerely sympathize that they don't know what they're missing by bringing that grace of marriage into a relationship, and creating a family within that. I suppose we should just offer this up to the Holy Family in prayer, that the sanctity of marriage might be realized.

Watch out Santa, a new list is out!

This Christmas Forbes.com has put out a list of the "Richest Fictional Characters" around. Santa, however, being non-fictional was of course not on the list. Check out the story HERE.

How are our recruitment numbers this year?


This is from the Curt Jester, and its hilarious. I wish I could do the things that man can with Photoshop.
So, what are you waiting for young men and women. Get to the nearest RCIA class ASAP!

Soldiers Getting Back

This picture says it all. Shrine of the Holy Whapping had it linked from their site. Check them out too. Here's an article with the original speech.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pray always

Br. James Brent has a good article on prayer over at catholic exchange.com. The link to his article is HERE. With that in mind there is a very good website run by some Jesuits in Ireland called Sacred Space. Its purpose is to help lead you in prayer by using short prayers leading up to the daily gospel reading, and then it asks you to meditate on that reading. Try it out sometime, its nice to use between classes or during a break at work.

Also, the same group of Jesuits has a site called Pray-as-you-Go. This website has daily meditaional prayer that center on the daily gospel reading, but these are downloadable mp3's so you can "pray as you go." I think they're pretty neat. They also have a "final review of the day" mp3 as well, but I keep forgetting to listen to that one. Whoops. Even if you don't have an mp3 player you can listen to these tracks via windows media player or via whatever your default audio player is. I hope you like them.

I've also linked their mission statement here (the jesuits that is) so you can find out more about them.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Never Graduate, Never.

Classes you shouldn't miss. And they're free!


Head on over to one of Scott Hahn's many ministries and check out their free online courses. The courses are listed --> HERE. They offer three different tracks of study: Apologetics, Biblical Theology, and Salvation History. They are great classes that Amy and I have used in the past. I especially have enjoyed Reading the Old Testament in the Gospel of Matthew.


After you've looked at those, make sure to check out their whole site. It's loaded with great stuff like audio and links to things you didn't know you wanted to see, but now that you know its there, you have to. Have fun and leeeaaaarrrrnnnn.

Don' t get hit by a leonid!


It's back, the meteors are coming. Don't worry, I'm not wearing my aluminum foil hat. The annual meteor shower called the leonids is coming this weekend and this years should be better than usual as astronomers say we're passing through some of the debris left from the comet Temple-Tuttle (please, no purple nikes allowed). Get the story HERE.

Adult stem cells work, embryonic have yet to

Another synopsis of the stem cells working on dogs to help fight muscular distrophy. This one is from Catholic News. The article is HERE.

Some new blogs

These blogs aren't really new, but they're new to me and I'm going to put a link to each on mine. I think they're worth checking out.

Snoringscholar
A Catholic Life

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And then there were six...


As if 5 of them weren't enough to last us a lifetime, Sly is giving us another heart warming film about... Judge Dread. Just kidding, but seriously, another Rocky? Really? I liked the originals, all of them I'm a little embarresed to say, but I really don't think that Stallone is helping the Rocky franchise by doing this one based on "a computer simulation" which says he would win. Yes, that is really the basis of the movie. Anywho, the trailer for the new movie is HERE.

Holy Arrest Batman!

The Dynamic Duo strikes again. This time posing as drunks looking for a party, then foiling a drug users dastardly plan. Get the story HERE.

The Watch Tower


I just got through talking to some very frustrated Jehova's Witnesses. Wow, they don't do well when you offer them some reading material. Of course they showed up preaching the "end of days." They also told me that Jesus could have been no greater than a man, and that he definetly couldn't be God. We talked about scripture and the Trinity for nearly 30 minutes before they said they were "through wasting their time on a follower of Babylon."


With this in mind, there are some links to some good material you'll want to know if you ever get approached by Jehovah's Witnesses below. They come from Catholic Answers @ catholic.com.










I'm going to try and read the paper they gave me and formulate a response to mail to their church and I'll probably post it online as well. Here's to the Truth.

Another story on stem cells

There's an article this morning over on Fox News about using stem cells from adult dogs to treat muscular distrophy in other dogs. You can read the article HERE. So another story about success in stem cells, and again it has nothing to do him embryonic stem cells. I seem to see a pattern...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

War Ideas

Great new post today by James Fitzpatrick on the war in Iraq. Read it HERE. I think Fitzpatrick's column must be in reply to the statement put out recently by the US Bishops Council. The council did nothing but state the obvious in my opinion, that when we're no longer needed we need to leave. The problem is, we are still needed and so we can't leave, and putting out a statement about leaving sounds like they want us out now, which I think many of them do. Being a former soldier, I know that no troop wants to be there, but ask someone who has been in Iraq if there is a need and they will answer yes. On foxnews.com there was an article in which Gen Abizaid, our top man in Iraq said "no" to a time table for withdrawal. That article is HERE. Of course there was also no suggestion offered as to a solution in the bishops' statement. That just adds to my opinion that the statement was about nothing.

I want to mention that I do respect the thoughts from the USCCB, but I wish they would either make suggestions toward a reasonable solution, or not make statements that sound like whining. All in all, I think Fitzpatrick really sums it up, and I have to say, if I was a more eloquent writer, that's what I would have wanted to say.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Veteran's Day


Happy Veteran's Day to those who have served or are serving. Remember the fallen, and those who have yet to return.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Election Blues


I really never thought that it would happen. That the dems would win both the senate and the house. Hopefully the Roberts Court is strong enough now to save the Partial Birth Abortion ban and maybe with some new legislation, strengthen pro-life causes. I hope that the older justices can hold on until we swing back congress to our side. By the way, Catholic Exchange has a good article about why congress might still be a little pro-life HERE.

My greatest fear now is that the dems will try to pull us out of Iraq. Being a former soldier, I have alot of friends who were sent over there, and every one that came back said the same thing "It wasn't fun, but it wasn't near what they show on the news." Yes, people die every day, but they do in the US too. Basically they tell me this, good things are happening, people here don't understand what's going on because they're being told that nothing good is happening. We need to stay the course. Another thing is we need to be visible there until the job is finished, not hiding in a base outside of where the job needs to be done, but where the job needs to be done. The reason is because even though a base outside of the cities may make it easier to stop attacks on troops when they're in garrison, its much like having the cavalry in the fort while the indians attack the town. Why? The terrorists are attacking civilians, when they don't see anyone around, they can do what they want when they want. When they see troops around, its more intimidating and gives second thought. Of course attacks will still happen, but it changes the terrorists ability to execute their plans and gives the civilians a better sense of security for sure.


I'm also afraid of what the dems will try to do to our intel capabilities. Having been in that field myself, I've seen what we can do and what we can't in regards to privacy issues and let me tell you, the rules could never be more stringent. That's a good thing. The problem is when the dems discuss intell issues like the NSA's programs, they discuss it as if all we do is sit around spying on the family down the street or check out what the Johnson's are having for dinner. That dehumanizes the troops doing the work. Come on folks, we're people too and we don't want to invade people's privacy any more than we'd want our privacy invaded. The rules say that we'd get sent to a federal penitentiary for doing invading someone's privacy for no good reason, even with the Patriot Act laws. It's just ridiculus to me that the dems try to say that we're inhuman government robots ready to listen in on you talking with your grandma.


I have hope from this election though. Since the dems won the election, it seems to me that they will be emboldened to run on more liberal issues in the '08 election which could be a congress swinger AND will be a presidential election. If anyone noticed, no democrat ran on a very liberal agenda. Instead they basically posed as conservatives. Cutting to the chase, if the dems try to go liberal between now and '08, they would set themselves up for losing congress again as well as letting us keep the presidency and that my friends would be the better victory of the two. I also blame a little bit of this loss on conservative voter apathy. I don't feel like we "got out the vote." When there's a pres election you know we will. So here's to '08 and the escape from the new "America Held Hostage."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Law of Human Nature and C.S. Lewis


I think this will take me more than one post to talk about, but I wanted to mention that as I've been rereading C.S. Lewis's book "Mere Christianity" it occured to me that I kind of disagree with him on one point in his discussion of The Law of Human Nature. He says that among the different laws of nature that
"Each man is subject at every moment to several different sets of law but there
is only one that he is free to disobey. As a body, he is subjected to
gravitation and cannot disobey it; if you leave him unsupported in mid-air, he
has no more choice about falling than a stone has. As an organism, he is
subjected to various biological laws which he cannot disobey any more than an
animal can. That is, he cannot disobey those laws which he shares with other
things; but the law which is peculiar to his human nature, the law does not
share with animals or vegetables or inorganic things, is the only one he can
disobey if he so chooses."

Where I disagree with Lewis (and I am by no means the mind that he was so I say it very humbly) is on the point that we can disobey the natural law of man. Lewis's says we can because we can decide to steal rather than not steal which is inline with the law of human nature, or we can decide to lie which is adverse to human nature. However, I would say that while we can make decisions counter to the law of human nature, we are still accountable to those consequences and therefore the law of human nature will still rule. For example, if I choose to "disobey" the law of gravity by jumping off a building, you know its ridiculus because gravity still works and I will be a spot on the sidewalk. In the same manner, I think that when the choice is made to "disobey" human nature, the law of human nature still has its way and we will be a spot of the sidewalk of eternity if we don't make up for it. I suppose I miss Lewis's point a little, maybe I'm being too broadsighted for what he's discussing, but if we believe that every action has a consequence, then whether the liar is caught or not in life, in judgment he won't skip by the judge. If I sky dive with a parachute I'm sort of making up for the gravity and I'll live to take the elevator back up again. If I make mistakes against the Law of Nature and seek redemption sincerely, I have my parachute and I can take the elevator (or the stairs if you're slow to get it like me) and be right back up on top of the building where I can try to not fall off again.


Like I said before, maybe I'm missing the point of Lewis's argument, but I think it's worth the discussion anyway.

President Gates now the Sec Def nominee!


Now that Defense Sec Rumsfeld has stepped down, President Bush has nominated Texas A&M University President Robert Gates as his new Secretary of Defense (the story is HERE). A while back President Bush wanted to tap him as the new founded Director of National Intelligence, but Gates said for "love of the university" he woulnd't do it. But now he feels like the changes that he's wanted to initiate have been started, he can go foward and take the position for "love of country." Below is the email he sent out to all of us Aggie students:


"By the time you read this, the President of the United States will have announced that he will nominate me to be the next Secretary of Defense. I am deeply honored, but also deeply saddened.As most of you know, almost two years ago I declined an opportunity to become the first Director of National Intelligence. I did so principally because of my love for Texas A&M and because much of the program we had initiated to take A&M to a new level of excellence had only just started.Today, two years later, all of the initiatives of greatest importance are well underway and on an assured path to completion. The faculty reinvestment program is on track and all 447 new positions should be funded by next September. Work is underway or in planning for more than $500 million in construction, some 90% of it on new academic facilities. We have made significant progress in increasing the diversity of our faculty and student body, and both the programs and funding are in place to continue that important and on-going effort. And many new initiatives are now underway or are already complete to enhance both graduate and undergraduate education, including, above all, the new University Studies degree program. The Corps is on the right track in terms of growth and grades, and the Capital Campaign will end next month having far exceeded our billion dollar goal.Some of you may worry whether one or another of these efforts will continue with my departure. You need to know that the progress we have made has been a team endeavor, and the team will remain. A remarkable faculty and a group of gifted administrators and staff who truly deserve the credit for all that has been accomplished over the past four-plus years will still be here -- above all, my strong right arm for nearly four and a half years, the Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. David Prior.I apologize for surprising you with this momentous decision and announcement, and for leaving as president before fulfilling my commitment to serve Texas A&M for at least five years. I hope you will understand the circumstances that made this necessary and that this appointment comes nearly as much a surprise to me as to you.I will have more to say to you before I leave (if I am confirmed by the Senate). But I must tell you that while I chose Texas A&M over returning to government almost two years ago, much has happened both here and around the world since then. I love Texas A&M deeply, but I love our country more and, like the many Aggies in uniform, I am obligated to do my duty. And so I must go. I hope you have some idea of how painful that is for me and how much I will miss you and this unique American institution.At this point, I expect to remain as President of Texas A&M until completion of the confirmation process and a Senate vote. I assure you, you will hear more from me before my departure. Robert M. GatesPresidentTexas A&M University"


I've thought nothing bu the best of Dr. Gates since I've been at A&M and I think he'll do a great job as the Sec Def. By the way, while I was on active duty in '03 I think, I got to hear Donald Rumsfeld speak and we got to talk to him for a little while. He seemed to me to be a great guy who was always criticized for being arrogant, but I think after meeting him that he was never arrogant but instead confident in the country and blunt in giving his thoughts. Thanks for your service Secretary Rumsfeld, and Dr. Gates we'll pray for your nomination from here in Aggieland. Make us proud and Gig 'Em!

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Few Days Off...


I've been pretty tired lately so I thought I'd just throw in a G.K. Chesterton quote until I write tomorrow.


"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting
up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when
they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice."

GK, you're a genius.

Friday, November 03, 2006

St. Thomas Aquinas patron of students, pray for me...


I just found out I had a really bad grade and a really good grade. I made a 94 on the hardest physics test of the year and a really bad grade on the easiest math test of the year and that dropped my grade ALOT. I really need some Aquinas intervention (being that he's the patron saint of students)...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pythagoreans



I just started a book called "A history of Philosophy" by Fr. Frederick Copleston. Its the first of a nine-volume set written to chronicle the history of philosophy from the early Ionians to the present day. One thing in particular caught my eye while reading yesterday and I thought my sister might enjoy it. It's about the Pythagoreans.




The Pythagoreans were a group of people in southern Italy (Kroton) in the sixth centruy BC. Pythagoreas, is actually rarely mentioned and may have only been the founder of the group and therefore only its namesake and not its great leader. Everyone seems to know about the Pythagorean Theorum, but did you know, that the Pythagoreans did not study math for the science of it, but rather they studied math as a religion? It probably started after they discovered that different lengths of string on a lyre had different mathematical qualities. That is to say that "pitch may be said to depend on number, in so far as it depends on the lengths..." Anyway, using this as a basis, they proclaimed that the world consisted of numbers and nothing but them. They regarded numbers spacially such as one is a point, two is the line, three is the surface and four is the solid. Thinking this way they said that "all bodies consist of points or units in space, which when taken together constitute a number. They also held that all the elements were numbers and that the evens were finite while the odds were infinite. To "prove" this they drew diagrams like the following:






So, to ash, I think this proves that mathmaticians are wierd, and for the rest of us I think this is an interesting develpoment in early philosophy. For more check out the book.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blogging on Stem Cells


There's been alot of blogging on stem cell research lately and I like Happy Catholic's comments on the subject and what she put together. I'm not a pro at any of this, I just want to put in my thoughts. I think I would summarize the argument with these premises:


  1. Embryonic Stem cell research is parts farming and is killing a human being. (Honestly that's what it is. Anyone who has seen the movie "The Island" knows what I'm talking about).

  2. Killing others to make us more comfortable is wrong.

  3. It hasn't worked, other research (ex.- adult stem cells) has worked. Spend the money where it has the most benefit.

The premise that I have seen argued against most often seems to be #2, only it is usually presented as "I don't want to deal with such and such a disease, this research helps to stop the suffering, therefore it is necessary." The argument is based on the premises that:



  1. Suffering should be stopped

  2. Embryonic stem cell research could cure many forms of suffering

  3. Therefore, we should have embryonic stem cell research

First of all, the first premise assumes that all suffering is bad. To argue this point, the supporter says for example "We know that it gets hot in Texas. We have decided to take action against the heat by creating air conditioning and cooling the hot Texas air. Living in the heat is suffering, it was good to change the situation, therefore overcoming suffering is good. Embryonic stem cell research could possibly stop suffering therefore, based on our earlier logic we can conclude that it is good."


This is not the case however because we can also say that "Exercise causes pain. Pain is suffering, but exercise makes us better physically, therefore suffering is good." Of course suffering comes in different degrees and alzheimers disease is a greater type of suffering than exercise but, perhaps the gain from the greater suffering of alzheimers is more important than that of exercise, except it is in a way not as obvious, such as in a spiritual fashion. One could even argue that suffering from the Texas heat is good because it reminds us that there is a heavenly place (even as close to heaven as aggieland is!) to look forward to where the a/c is always on! We can see that suffering can be both good and bad. There must be then a decision necessary to decide what is good suffering and what is bad suffering, but most importantly we have shown that the first premise is not always correct and so we have cast doubt on the pro-embryonic stem cell argument.


The second premise, that embryonic stem cell research could cure many forms of suffering, cannot be denied. However, neither can you say that leaches could not possibly cure a head ache, as unlikely as it is. My point is this, the possibility is there but the chances are somewhat slim compared to other potential treatments. We have plenty of evidence other stem cell types work, adult stem cells, and stem cells from umbilical cords to name two. Even liberal sources like PBS couldn't deny this. This article "Conflicting Research" is titled in such a way as to give the impression that non-embryonic stem cell research won't work, but as you read the article you realize that the data collected from experimentation using adult stem cells is vastly superior to anything gained from embryonic stem cell research. I use tylenol on my head aches, not leaches.


The conclusion then, that we should have embryonic stem cell research is not conclusive and it is rather doubtful at this point that embryonic stem cell research can do anything that other moral forms of treatment can't do better, cheaper and faster.


I think the biggest problem with all these ESCR arguments is that they tend to assume the lifelessness of an embryo, or that taking the life of an embryo is okay given the empathy the arguer assumes we should have for the suffering of another. If we don't support killing embryos for their possible cure, then we are called heartless by the media.


This really touches the same source of error as the abortion baby-killers. Life for us should be comfortable, so take whatever measures necessary to secure our comfort. I think if you took a poll (I haven't looked for any) looking at the percentage of the population that supports abortion and that percentage which supports ESCR you would find them to be roughly the same, heck it would be the same exact group of people. You can see this group when you look at Blue America (which incidently is why we need to get out the Republican pro-life vote this November). The assumptions come because we've lost sight of God in our country. To quote Dostoyevski like yesterday “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” This is never "permissable" in an argument concerning politics of course because the "separation of church and state" is invoked. If we leave our beliefs at the door however, where will we get?


Back to the stem cell argument, I've seen new attempts to make it look better like in THIS article. The article claims that they can now get stems cells from embryos without killing the embryos. What they try to pass off a little slyly is that:



"The first new method still subjects a human embryo to a small risk, and the
second involves deliberately creating an embryo with a disabled version of a
gene that is crucial to normal development, reported the Washington Post."

I hope everyone will see through this little effort at pushing on with ESCR.


Well, that's my two cents worth on the subject. I think I got a little roamy there for a while so please correct me if I got my arguments confusing.

Hallowmas


I thought Wikipedia's article on All Saint's day was pretty interesting. You can get there from HERE. My wife doesn't really like Halloween much because she feels the "evil" side has gotten out of hand. I think our culture has really brought out evil on ASD (to shorten All Saints Day) but the last couple of years the columnists at Catholic exchange have written some great ideas on taking Halloween back. I wish I could find them to link but alas... (here is this years article, pretty good one I think). Anyway, I enjoy Halloween. I loved trick-or-treating as a kid and sometimes I still wish I could dress up as a superhero (no comments needed on that ash:)). I think its important to try to let kids enjoy it and make some memories. I don't have kids yet so I can't say that I know that I'm right, but I feel like we should do what parents are always asked to do and teach our kids what Halloween is really about and then take them out to have a good time on this HOLYday (and get some superhigh blood sugar!). Anyway, don't forget Wednesday is a Holy day of obligation so don't miss mass, remember to pray for the souls in Purgatory, and ask the saints to pray for us that we can celebrate their special day with a desire to be like them!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Athiest Morals


My sister mentioned the other day in a com box that she wondered how people who don't believe in God live their lives. I think different Athiests would answer a little differently from person to person. But I think the basic idea I have read is that some atheists believe that morals are a precondition that exists in humans. They believe it is empathy based and that criminals or psychopaths just don't have any empathy. They believe they must follow their own conscience to what they believe is good and that's that. Don't judge them, its their belief. This is where the roots of relativism come from in our society. If we separate God from our everyday lives thinking that He offends others we live in a godless world where we must make our own right and wrong, yours might be different then mine but that's okay because its our rights to think differently.


The problem with that is obvious I think. In a society that can't settle on a basis for its own rules, it can't be ruled and I think this tends to expose something in atheist thought. Cardinal John Henry Newman had an argument that brought out the fault of the atheist relativistic thought. If you ask an atheist what he thinks of someone who disregards a religious moral law the peson is likely to say thats just fine. He may even go so far as to praise the person for going "beyond the traditional boundaries of false theism." But ask an atheist what they think of a person who disregards their own conscience and you will get a very different answer. "No, never you can't disregard your conscience." Why? If your conscience is not formed by God but only from the formation of your upbringing then it is the same as if your parents told you what to think is it not? That is not your conscience, it is the conscience programmed into you. What if its societies ever changing influence? How much the worse that it was formed not only by two people but by the masses? It is not your conscience at all but the belief of society and how can it then be relative to itself? Is it not then the product of what the atheist says it is okay to rebel against? So why worry about the right of conscience? Why is conscience so important if not shaped by God?


I think the only correct atheist answer is written by the Catholic Russian writer Fyoder Dostoyevsky. He says (to paraphrase) that if God does not exist, I can do whatever I want. There is no reason to worry about right or wrong. You won't like me? So what I don't like you either. Its not good for society? To hell with society, I don't care about it either, only me. If there are no eternal repercussions, and there is nothing after this, then the only sin is not to take advantage of everything for myself.


There are moral atheists. I think I've even heard of a group called atheists for Jesus because they are "proponents of the golden rule." I think however that they're kind of dumb. Its one thing to deny the existence of God, another to give yourself unecessary rules while not thinking there are any discernable consequences of breaking them. I think I'll end with a Dostoyevski quote that fits the moral atheist:



"Talking nonsense is man's only privilege that distinguishes him
from all other organisms."
(_Crime_and_Punishment_ 3.1)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The problem with money

I think it's worth some time to talk a little about money and its place in our society. For all you liberal anti-capitalists out there, that's not where I'm going with this. Money is not bad. I will say again, MONEY IS NOT BAD. The problem with money is this, while we own money, money tends to own us. Its the same problem as with any other material thing with the exception that this material thing allows us to get other material things. I'm sure all Christians are saying right now "But what about the rich young man in Matthews gospel?" Well I would suggest that Jesus isn't condemning him because of his possesions but showing a point about materialism and how it can hurt.

The gospel reading is Matt 19:16-26

"[16] And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I
do, to have eternal life?" [17] And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about
what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the
commandments." [18] He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not
kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear
false witness, [19] Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your
neighbor as yourself." [20] The young man said to him, "All these I have
observed; what do I still lack?" [21] Jesus said to him, "If you would be
perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." [22] When the young man heard this he
went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. [23]
And Jesus said to
his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the
kingdom of heaven. [24] Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." [25] When
the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be
saved?" [26] But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is
impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Notice that the rich man asks "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" and Jesus replies (please ignore the Yoda sounding translation) "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Jesus tells him to keep the commandments hmmm... Next the young man tells him that "All these I have observed..."

Now what has Jesus required of this man for eternal life? Keep the commandments. Next the young man says "what do I still lack?" and Jesus replies "If you would be perfect (emphasis mine), go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

Let's summarize this so far:
1) Jesus in this situation requires the keeping of the commandments for eternal life
2) The young man has done it, not worried about that anymore, so he wants to know what else he can do
3) Jesus says that to be perfect he should sell all he has

They key to enterpretting why this makes him perfect comes next- "When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful (again emphasis mine); for he had great possessions."
The key is that he couldn't give up what he had in order to reach perfection because of his attachment to it. Jesus asks for him to sacrifice his possesions because He knows how high he places them, above God.

With this in light consider the following: Is money the root of all evil, or is human imperfection (in this case the disordered attachment to material things) the root of all evil? We must conclude that it is our own disordered attachments. Material things, money included, are not inherently evil. They are things given by God for our use and enjoyment. They were given to us and we "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth (Gen 1:26)."

There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel.We are disordered but God reached out in human form, Jesus, to give us his unbounded grace so that we might overome our disordered attachments through Him. Jesus, because of the stain of original sin says "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And we like the apostles ask "Who then can be saved?" Thank God that "Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Money certainly does not give meaning to our lives, but it is only a material thing and so neither does it remove meaning from our lives. I am not good with money, and I am too attached to material things. But this means that I have to look for the Light of the World in my darkness to save me.

"With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Reno balloon race

My family and I used to live and Reno. I saw this video on youtube.com and thought it'd be fun to watch. Its a good video of the balloons getting ready and taking off.

North Korea



Its hard to believe everything that's happening in Korea right now. I spent a year there from March of 2002 until March of 2003 and I thought it was a beautiful place with wonderful people. Just looking at the picture here you can tell that the South Korea is ahead of the North in technology, I think if you could take a picture of the spirit of the country it would look a little like this too.

The people of South Korea take great pride in their country, and I can't imagine how they feel knowing that their brothers in the north just keep threatening them and pushing away all possible help.

We used to talk alot about the stability of Kim Jong Il's regime and how long we thought it would stay in power. Alot of years have been estimated, some have past and some haven't, and it seems that Kim Jong Il knows he's teetering and is just trying to stay afloat. He's always stayed one wave ahead of the one to turn him over. He's always made the moves to just scrape by and keep power, and that says something. He's only worried about staying in power.

The problem I see is that he finally got nukes. I think we could have blown away his facilities and he would have only threatened retaliation but he wouldn't have done anything as long as he stayed in power. Its always been about him staying in power. Now...well, he knows we have a bulls eye on him and that if we come after him he has a bigger stick to wave around than before. Will we do anything? I think President Bush knows we have to, and steps have already been taken to apply economic pressure on him. I think sanctions may pull him in some. All the aid that has been sent to the people of North Korea was always taken away by the government and directed at the military (the world's largest standing army by the way). Now, they have nothing to feed their army and they'll have to make a concession. I've heard people say that the North would attack then and it would be the most casualty producing war ever. However, the fact of the matter is, its about stability. Tell Kimmy he can stay in power, but the UN (I'd rather say us but we have to let him save some face) must have DIRECT supervision of ALL military facilities as well as people THERE, ON THE GROUND at those facilities.

I don't see Kim Jong Il ever using the stick he picked up, I think he'll just keep waving it. He knows if he swings it he'll join the dead dictators society and that's the last thing he wants. For us, even though regime change is what we want, we have to know it will come in time. With direct oversight, even by the corrupt UN, we can send the food to the people and take the Bomb from his arsenal. I think that needs to be the ultimate goal, but by absolutely, possitively no means can we allow things to stay where they are. We can link NK to Libya and Iran in missile technology, who knows if they're also helping with Irans nuke program. Dr. Khan might not be Irans only helper. And if Iran has nukes then so does every Israel hating and western hating terrorist group out there. That is unacceptable.

Now if only it was as easy to do it as to say it...